'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Ships, Vehicles Will Have a 1983 Aesthetic

"You know, if this could have been around 1983 and if it feels good, then we're fine" was the guiding principle behind updating Imperial vehicles, says Lucasfilm's Kevin Jenkins.
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

The First Order hasn't just updated the name of the bad guys in the Star Wars franchise — they've updated some of their rides too. But what goes into the thought process of remaking a design classic?

Following up on the debut of the First Order's Dreadnought warship and AT-M6 Walker on this week's episode of YouTube series The Star Wars Show, Lucasfilm design supervisor for The Last Jedi Kevin Jenkins talked to official brand site StarWars.com about how he updated the look of some fan-favorite toys for the new movie.

"The final aesthetic came from something we were doing on [The Force Awakens]," Jenkins explained. "If it feels like a model and I felt like it probably could have been in the original trilogy, then I'd be happy with it. … That was why Rian [Johnson, The Last Jedi director] liked some of the physical models that I was making so much, because it made us realize that 'You know, if this could have been around 1983 and if it feels good, then we're fine.' That was pretty much the internal checkbox that I took forward with that."

Both vehicles are variations on looks from the original trilogy that Jenkins and his team developed using real-world inspiration. "World War II and the Korean War and that era was a heavy influence in all the design, going into the '60s," he said, "but also using the mentality that Rian and I talked about a lot, which was an iteration-type idea. War makes you adaptive. So you start off with one vehicle, tank, gun, ship, and it evolves through combat into something else."

One of those "something else"s is the new inspiration for the Walkers, following their debut in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back: "I suggested to Rian, 'Well, instead of a dog [as inspiration], what about a gorilla?' I can’t remember why I said a gorilla, but I just said, 'They have a great stance. They are very aggressive.' And that’s how the idea of the gorilla came."

Will a gorilla-inspired Walker have any more luck against a tow cable? Jenkins believes so, but no one will know for sure until Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters Dec. 15. The Star Wars Show episode that debuted the vehicles can be seen below.

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